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COME JOIN US! IMMEDIATE JOB OPENINGS AT WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE! Enj…


COME JOIN US! IMMEDIATE JOB OPENINGS AT WOOD PRAIRIE FAMILY FARM IN MAINE! Enjoy working together on a down-to-earth real 46-year-old organic family farm and in our year-round organic seed mail order & web business located right here on the farm in beautiful Northern Maine.
NEW job openings include: 1) Year Round Full-time Seed Assistant, 2) Seasonal Full-time Seed Assistant (Summers Off!) and 3) Part-time Seed Assistant.
Find details here: woodprairie dot com/jobop/
Everyone – please help spread the word by Sharing & Liking so friends & family in Maine may learn about this opportunity to earn their living working with us. Thanks! Caleb, Megan & Jim




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TODAY’S THE DAY: AMISH COMMUNITY STORE TO RE-OPEN IN UNITY, MAINE. The origina…


TODAY’S THE DAY: AMISH COMMUNITY STORE TO RE-OPEN IN UNITY, MAINE. The original store on Rte 139 was destroyed by fire back in January. The Market will re-open today, though finishing touches are still being made on the fryer in the Bakery.
Last Winter, rubble from the burned building was quickly removed. Within weeks a new building shell had been erected. However, it has taken many additional months to finish the building and re-stock shelves. https://www.bangordailynews.com/2022/09/20/news/midcoast/unity-amish-market-reopening/?mc_cid=a123fc96e3&mc_eid=3ffbc641ad
The Unity Amish community is now home to 20-25 households and about 150-200 people. It is located just a mile from the headquarters of MOFGA (Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn). This weekend (Fri, Sat, Sun) MOFGA will be holding its annual ‘Common Ground County Fair’ in-person for the first time since 2019, thanks to Covid. The ‘Fair’ continues to be the largest single organic gathering in North America and is well worth making the effort to attend.
The first Amish Community in Maine was established about twenty-five years ago in Aroostook County in the Town of Smyrna, about 35 miles south of our farm. It’s general store is called ‘The Pioneer Place,’ and is owned by Chris Hilty and his son. It has been operating continuously since the early years. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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THE OLIVER IRON SWITCHOUT. Complimenting our post from Sunday, pictured here is…


THE OLIVER IRON SWITCHOUT. Complimenting our post from Sunday, pictured here is the old and failing Hydraulic-Pump-containing-assembly lifted off from our Oliver 1750 Diesel.
We found a replacement assembly in Canada and switched it out one evening earlier this month.
The 1750 is the tractor we’ve been using to pull our ‘Juko’ Potato Harvester. Hydraulic power had declined in the last year and we gambled that swapping out with another used pump would be the necessary fix. The gamble paid off.
Here, Caleb stands in the shade of his shop and behind his gentle 15-month-old Rottweiler and stick chaser, ‘Ralph.’ Caleb, Megan & Jim




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ON THE GOOD DAYS THE BREAKDOWNS ARE MINOR. In this case the fix was not as sub…


ON THE GOOD DAYS THE BREAKDOWNS ARE MINOR. In this case the fix was not as substantial a process as it might appear.
This picture was taken a week ago. It’s our Oliver 1750 Diesel, which for the last three years we’ve used to pull our ‘Juko’ Potato Harvester. This Fall we noticed the hydraulic power was not as strong as it was last Fall.
Caleb first tried an old Oliver-hack and disassembled the spring-loaded Hydraulic Pressure Relief Valve. He carefully placed a 3/8″ lock-washer into the spring-pocket before he reinserted the spring-driven Pressure Relief Valve. Half the time this trick will work to take up the slack from a spring which is not as young as it used to be. When we tried the tractor the next day digging, the hack didn’t give us anymore hydraulic power than what had got us worried.
Later that same afternoon, with Justin helping him, Caleb used a forklift to lift off the 400-pound assembly which contains the hydraulic pump. This assembly is bolted onto the Rear End of the tractor. The tractor seat mounts atop the assembly.
Earlier in the day Caleb had located a replacement Oliver assembly with used hydraulic pump – thought to be in good condition – at a junk yard across the line in Canada. Megan had her papers handy, so she logged onto the computer and filed for a Canadian crossing permit and she went over to bring it home.
Everything went smoothly and soon after dark Caleb and Justin had installed the replacement assembly.
We were able to start digging on-time at 7am the next morning. Turns out this used Hydraulic Pump has more life to it than the 1750’s old one ever did in the five years we’ve owned it. The hydraulics are now working great and we only lost a couple of hours worth of digging.
We like owning equipment we can fit. This practical independence is what Jim was trying to convey in his testimony before a Congressional hearing last week. Caleb, Megan & Jim https://www.repairerdrivennews.com/2022/09/15/memorandum-between-oems-aftermarket-cited-in-congressional-right-to-repair-hearing/

“‘We rely upon older equipment going back to the 1970s — equipment that we have repaired and rebuilt ourselves. We would never choose to place ourselves into a vulnerable position of being at the mercy of malfunctioning electronic sensors… When a problem as common and as minor as water condensation in a diesel tank can cause a sudden ‘limp mode’ activation, say during peak planting or peak of harvest, not only does that place an individual farmer and our livelihood at risk, but it really places the nation’s food security at risk,’ Gerritsen said.”




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THE MAINE SEASONAL SHIFT: BRIGHT BUT COLD POTATO HARVEST. The last couple of d…


THE MAINE SEASONAL SHIFT: BRIGHT BUT COLD POTATO HARVEST. The last couple of days have been windy, following an inch of rain midweek The winds have brought in much cooler temps in the 40s and low 50s, down from the high 70s last weekend.
In this shot taken Friday morning – breezy and in the low 40s – everyone except Justin (orange T-shirt) is bundled up for the cold. Justin grew up outdoors in Milo, Maine, a small town located between Howland and Moosehead Lake. He is a jack-of-all-trades and besides being a builder and heavy equipment mechanic he is a long-time Maine Registered Guide. To his left is Caleb’s sister, Amy, who comes up from college to help us on weekends. To his right is Kenyon, who grew up without electricity inside the 200,000-acre-wilderness Baxter State Park, where his parents were both Park Rangers.
Three out of four years in our Crop Rotation, our rows run East/West. On this section of the field we’re digging from East to West. So first thing in the morning when the sun is low, it is blinding looking backwards from the tractor which pulls the Potato Harvester. Part of that job is monitoring the flow of soil and potatoes going up the primary bed.
To the right is a harvested section of Potato field already planted down to ‘Aroostook’ Winter Rye and Clover/Timothy the evening before this week’s rain. https://www.woodprairie.com/product/rye-seed-organic-aroostook/
As the morning wore on the winds picked up but so did the temps and it became a perfect day to dig. Caleb, Jim & Megan




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BREAKING NEWS! CFS WINS LAWSUIT AGAINST USDA OVER ILLEGAL ‘QR’ CODE DECEPTIVE GM…


BREAKING NEWS! CFS WINS LAWSUIT AGAINST USDA OVER ILLEGAL ‘QR’ CODE DECEPTIVE GMO ‘DARK’ LABELING. A District Court has ruled the Center for Food Safety was correct in their assertions that USDA’s ‘QR Code’ plan was illegal. USDA has now been ordered to jettison their bogus ‘QR Code’ plan and go back to the drawing board. Caleb, Megan & Jim https://www.commondreams.org/newswire/2022/09/14/court-rules-qr-codes-alone-unlawful-gmo-food-labeling

“’This is a victory for all Americans,’ said Meredith Stevenson, Center for Food Safety (CFS) staff attorney and counsel in the case. ‘Today’s decision marks a key step toward ending the food industry’s deceptive and discriminatory GMO food labeling practices, which have kept consumers in the dark by concealing what’s in their products.’”




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“FARMERS IN MAINE ARE SURVIVORS.” Those were words spoken this morning by Jim v…


“FARMERS IN MAINE ARE SURVIVORS.” Those were words spoken this morning by Jim via Zoom at a Congressional House ‘Small Business Committee’ Subcommittee hearing held in Washington, DC, entitled “Right to Repair and What it Means for Entrepreneurs.” Here is the C-Span link to video of the full Hearing (1:43:06).
https://www.c-span.org/video/?522857-1/hearing-repair-laws
A total of four witnesses from across the country testified at today’s Hearing. As it pertains to the ag sector, the topic asked what to do about mega manufacturers such as John Deere and Case IH who have worked to deny farmers the right to repair the tractors and farm equipment they have purchased.
This comment by Jim (@1:26:57) was part of one answer in response to a question posed by Subcommittee Chair Cong. Jared Golden (D-ME-02) (photo below). Rep. Golden is running for re-election in Northern Maine’s large and sprawling Second District. He is a former Marine and Iraqi War combat veteran.
Jim’s written comments are here. https://smallbusiness.house.gov/uploadedfiles/09-14-22_mr._gerritsen_testimony.pdf Caleb, Megan & Jim




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“FARMERS IN MAINE ARE SURVIVORS.” Those were words spoken this morning by Jim v…


“FARMERS IN MAINE ARE SURVIVORS.” Those were words spoken this morning by Jim via Zoom at a Congressional House ‘Small Business Committee’ Subcommittee hearing held in Washington, DC, entitled “Right to Repair and What it Means for Entrepreneurs.” Here is the link to video of the full Hearing (1:35:28).

A total of four witnesses from across the country testified at today’s Hearing. As it pertains to the ag sector, the topic asked what to do about mega manufacturers such as John Deere and Case IH who have worked to deny farmers the right to repair the tractors and farm equipment they have purchased.
This comment of Jim (@1:32:10) was part of one answer in response to a question posed by Subcommittee Chair Cong. Jared Golden (D-ME-02) (photo below). Rep. Golden is running for re-election in Northern Maine’s large and sprawling Second District. He is a former Marine and Iraqi War combat veteran.
Find the full text of Jim’s written comments below. Caleb, Megan & Jim

September 12, 2022

Hon. Jared Golden, Chair & Hon. Claudia Tenney, Ranking Member U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Small Business Subcommittee on Underserved, Agricultural and Rural Business Development 2360 Rayburn House Office Building Washington, DC 20515-0315
Dear Rep. Golden, Rep. Tenney, and Members of the Subcommittee,
Thank you for this opportunity to present testimony at the Subcommittee hearing titled, “Right to Repair and What it Means for Entrepreneurs.”
I am a family farmer in Maine. I work closely with our son, Caleb Gerritsen, who is the chief mechanic on our farm. We both strongly support the concept of preserving the right of farmers and independent shops to repair the equipment farmers own. We urge Congress to codify traditional farmer and independent shop repair rights by passing legislation which serves the public good by leveling the economic playing field, restraining monopoly control, and thereby uplifting the economy and enhancing the freedom and liberty of working Americans.
For almost fifty years, along with my family, I have been growing organic crops on our farm. We are located in Aroostook County, the northernmost county in the State of Maine, still referred to as the “Potato Empire.” Through the early 1950s, Maine led the nation with the greatest number of acres of potatoes grown in any State. Though in more recent decades potato production has shifted westward, to this day Aroostook County grows more acres of potatoes than any other county in the U.S., save one.
On our isolated farm, adjacent to the North Maine Woods, we raise organic Maine Certified Seed Potatoes and other types of organic seed. Our crops have all been Certified Organic for forty years, including the last twenty years under the regulation of the USDA National Organic Program. We are active, longtime members of numerous farm organizations, including National Farmers Union, Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Assn (MOFGA), Organic Eye, and Maine Farm Bureau.
For more than forty years we have directly-sold our crops to retail customers, originally selling at local farmers markets. Beginning thirty-three years ago we developed a mail order organic seed business and catalog, later adding an online store. We retail directly to home and market gardeners and have customers in all fifty States. We employ a dozen local co-workers. Virtually all positions are year-round, and our crew includes both family members and neighbors who help us serve the needs of the tens of thousands of customers in our database. The US Postal Service is our primary parcel delivery vendor, and Fedex is our secondary parcel delivery vendor.
My wife, Megan, and I have handed our farm down to our son, Caleb. He is a skilled mechanic and after high school he increased his knowledge and ability by earning a degree in Diesel Hydraulic Mechanics at the local community college. Caleb does an excellent job maintaining our tractors and equipment. In Aroostook County, it is extremely common for farmers to do most of their own equipment repair work.
By design, in order to increase our own financial farm viability, our farm stability and our overall independence, we long ago consciously made the strategic decision to only own farm equipment that we ourselves are able to repair. Therefore, we have avoided purchasing modern, electronically-sophisticated farm tractors and equipment which contain computer chips. For example, on our family farm we rely upon a fleet of older, sturdy, American-made tractors from the 1970s and even before, which we are capable of repairing and in fact have rebuilt ourselves.
We would never choose to place ourselves in the vulnerable position of being at the mercy of malfunctioning electronic sensors, then being involuntarily forced into “limp mode,” and becoming locked out from using equipment we “own” until an expensive dealer mechanic arrives at their convenience with their rescuing computer software. When a problem as common and as minor as water condensation in a diesel tank can cause a sudden “limp mode” restriction during peak planting or harvest, not only is an individual farmer placed at risk, but extrapolating the system vulnerability, so is our nation’s food security.
In recent years the media has been increasingly covering the widespread rejection by farmers of overly complicated, unreliable and excessively high-priced tractors. As a practical alternative, many farmers in addition to ourselves, are opting to purchase older, proven, reliable tractors which they can completely rebuild for a fraction of the price of a new tractor.
Resistance against dubious new tractor design was documented in a report released last year (https://pirg.org/resources/deere-in-the-headlights-3/). “Of 74 farmers across 14 states surveyed by U.S. PIRG Education Fund and National Farmers Union, 77% indicated that they had bought older-model equipment to avoid the software in newer equipment.”

While the entire economy is under duress from the negative impacts of monopoly control, nowhere is the fallout from this concentration of power more apparent than it is in agriculture. At the same time as farmers are facing hard economic times, large multinational corporations are raking in record profits. This is due to massive economic consolidation and monopoly power in the food and agricultural sector, which currently sees two leading firms combining for 70% of corn and 61% of soybean seed sales in the U.S. In the meat industry today, according to a White House briefing addressing “concentration in the meat industry” published on September 8, 2021, the four largest beef beef-packing firms control 82% of the market; while in poultry, the top four chicken processing companies control 54% of the market, up from 35% in 1986; and in the pork industry the level of market consolidation is now up 66%, up from 33% of the market in 1976. (https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefing-room/blog/2021/09/08/addressing-concentration-in-the-meat-processing-industry-to-lower-food-prices-for-american-families/) This level of economic concentration and monopoly power in agriculture has led to a hollowing out of rural America, and a significant decline not only in the number of farms and jobs available in rural communities, but also a complete dismantling of local meat and food processing infrastructure.

Now they’re coming for our equipment and our tractors.

As corporate concentration increases, farmers become increasingly disadvantaged on both ends: fewer input sources for farm production – including tractors and equipment – and fewer market opportunities for selling crops.

Dealership consolidation is a troubling manifestation of growing monopoly control. In a follow up PIRG report released this year (https://pirg.org/resources/deere-in-the-headlights-ii-2/), PIRG research indicated “82% of Deere’s 1,357 agricultural equipment dealerships are a part of a large chain with seven or more locations. This mass consolidation means that there is one John Deere dealership chain for every 12,018 farms and every 5.3 million acres of American farmland.” Even Aroostook County has been impacted by undesirable dealership consolidation. After sixty-three years of independent ownership by the local Theriault family, the local John Deere dealership in Presque Isle was sold last winter to United Ag & Turf which now owns 63 John Deere agricultural equipment dealerships (https://www.farm-equipment.com/articles/19872-united-ag-turf-expands-to-63-locations-with-northeast-acquisitions).

In closing, let me encourage your Subcommittee to work together and create legislative remedies which will provide America’s ailing family farms with greater resiliency, increase fair market competition and provide Americans with a more stable food supply. Congress should enjoin the U.S. Department of Justice to vigorously enforce existing laws which restrain monopolies, including the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. We are living in a new era. Therefore, appropriate modernized legislation will be necessary to adjust to the times and force farm equipment manufacturers and software companies to play fair, prevent abuse and manipulation of markets, and be effectively restrained from negative monopolistic behaviors.

Thank you for this opportunity to testify to your Subcommittee via Zoom. I will be happy to try and answer any questions you may have.

Sincerely,

Jim Gerritsen

Jim Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
49 Kinney Road
Bridgewater, Maine 04735
www.woodprairie.com




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REVISITING ‘RURAL HARVEST’ BY PHOTOGRAPHER LOTTIE HEDLEY. ‘Rural Harvest’ ( i…


REVISITING ‘RURAL HARVEST’ BY PHOTOGRAPHER LOTTIE HEDLEY. ‘Rural Harvest’ (https://www.lottiehedleyphotography.com/rural-harvest#e-0) is a collection of photos taken on our farm by New Zealand photographer Lottie Hedley while she stayed with us during our Wood Prairie Potato Harvest in Fall 2010. The representative shot below of seven-year-old Amy (Caleb’s sister) and came to be known among us all as ‘The Russian Photo’ due to the Revolutionary zeal it seems to portray.
As becomes obvious, Lottie is extremely talented and possesses a rare rural perspicacity which contributes to making her photographs authentic. She grew up on her family’s dairy farm in Wairarapa, New Zealand. Right in the middle of the 2008 financial crisis she had had enough and opted to follow her heart come what may. She quit her grueling job as a corporate lawyer doing Mergers & Acquisitions work in London, to pursue her passion of becoming a photographer and visual storyteller. She ended up studying at Maine Media Workshops on the coast. Then, we became an early Lottie project.
You may find this in-depth Lottie interview (https://stonesoupsyndicate.com/articles/lottie-hedley) from seven years ago interesting. It offers insight into the life of this creative artist. Caleb, Megan & Jim




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BRAND NEW FREE ISSUE OF ‘WOOD PRAIRIE SEED PIECE’ NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE! Include…


BRAND NEW FREE ISSUE OF ‘WOOD PRAIRIE SEED PIECE’ NOW AVAILABLE ONLINE! Includes our NEW ‘Maine Tales’ – “Rock of Ages?” – investigating Hidden Rocks in yes, Saskatchewan.
Plus a Saturday Night ‘Potato Pizza’ Recipe, LAST CALL for Organic ‘Red Russian’ Garlic Seed, Fall Farm Photos, Stories & Much More!
Find the new ‘Seed Piece’ here: https://www.woodprairie.com/newsletters/090922.html
Caleb, Megan & Jim Gerritsen
Wood Prairie Family Farm
Bridgewater, Maine
www.woodprairie.organic




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